This is my review of My Old Lady [DVD] .
Penniless American Mathias Gold, whose baggage is largely that of understandable neuroses, travels to the upmarket Parisian apartment left to him by his estranged father. He is shocked to find that the flat was purchased cheaply on a “viager” or life annuity basis, which means that he has inherited the obligation to pay the previous owner and long-term resident Mathilde a substantial monthly fee for the rest of her natural life. Although aged ninety-two, she seems robust enough to live for quite a few more years. Mathias’s attempts to find the money for the payments in the short run and solve the problem in the long-term, obstructed by Mathilde’s spiky daughter Chloé, form the theme of this bitter-sweet comedy, which turns quite dark at times as Mathias discovers more about his past.
Although this is not a great film, and I was left at the end confused over some aspects of the chronology of past events, it is well acted as one would expect from such luminaries as Maggie Smith, Kristen Scott-Thomas and Kevin Kline. There are some amusing scenes, poignant moments and picturesque shots conveying the ambience of the district of Le Marais au bord de la Seine. For me, this was sufficient to compensate for some of the corny aspects.